By John Eberhard
How often a business website should be redesigned is a vital question every business owner or marketing director needs to answer. I think as a general rule that a business website should be fully redesigned every 3-5 years.
But here are a number of more concrete signs it is time to redesign your site:
- When the site stops working for you
There can be various functionality on your site that just stops working. Sometimes the technology used to accomplish various things on websites becomes outmoded or is no longer supported by the company that built it. When tech is no longer supported, eventually it’s going to stop working.
- When the site looks old or unattractive compared to competitors
This is a more subjective criteria, but no less real. Over time, the style of design for various websites changes dramatically. You should look at competitor websites in your industry and see what they are doing, then compare that to your site. If your site looks old in comparison, or the competitors are using newer bells and whistles, then it time to redesign.
- When the navigation isn’t intuitive or functional
How navigation is structured on a site is important, and this also changes over time. The navigation should be intuitive and easy to use. Also today I would say that any page of your site should be able to be reached from any other page (not including blog posts).
- The site doesn’t display well on mobile phones
This is incredibly important today because over half of all visitors to your site are doing so on a mobile phone. In fact, I was creating a monthly report for a client recently and over 75% of their visitors were coming from a mobile. If your site does not display correctly on a mobile – meaning the text is large enough to be readable and visitors don’t have to scroll right and left to read it – the search engines will penalize the site in their rankings.
I have found that some design features have to have two versions – one that works well on a desktop and another version that is just for mobile.
- The company info, photos or bios are out of date
Often the information about your company and its products and services can become out of date. So you may need to do a whole rewrite of site content or a good chunk of it, and it may be necessary to do a redesign at the same time, or minimally add new pages or photos and graphics.
- When the site loading speed is too slow
This has become critically important over the last year and a half, since Google made page loading speed a primary criteria in ranking sites. Some features which were very popular before this, such as video backgrounds and big slideshows with 10-12 slides, have become less popular as designers and search engine optimization consultants have had to abandon features that slowed down page loading too much. Basically today page loading speed has become one of the primary considerations in site design.
You may also discover that your hosting company has slow servers that slow down loading speed. Some really well known hosting companies today do a terrible job with server speed. If you’re doing a redesign, it is vital to check the loading speed and if your hosting is too slow, switch over to a faster host at the same time.
- The site isn’t getting much response
Now this is tricky because there are two very different scenarios that cause this. One is that the site just isn’t getting much traffic. You don’t necessarily have to do a redesign for this. It is vital to have Google Analytics or some other web statistics program on your site so you can see how much traffic is coming. I recommend checking the number of web visits at least monthly, and even doing a graph of this. If your site isn’t getting much traffic, you have to do some campaigns to drive people to the site.
The other cause of not enough response to the website is simply that there are not enough “identity capture” devices on the site. By identity capture devices I mean things on the site where people are enticed to give you their name and contact info. This includes more information forms. These more info forms should minimally be on your contact page, and on every single product page or service page of the site.
Depending on your industry, it is often also a good idea to offer some kind of information product, such as a free ebook or “free report.” Depending on the public that you are targeting, these can be very popular and can get you lots of new identities.
If you send out a regular newsletter, you should have a form offering free signups for that.
If you see some factors relating to your website above, it is probably time to pull the trigger.